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On Octavio Paz and Marie-José Tramini

Homero Aridjis, translated by Chloe Aridjis, 21 November 2019

... by poets – Giuseppe Ungaretti, Allen Ginsberg, Ingeborg Bachmann, Rafael Alberti, John Berryman, Charles Tomlinson, Stephen Spender – we felt en famille. Paz and I and our wives drove to Assisi to see Giotto’s frescos, wandered about the Chiostro dei Morti, and climbed to the Eremo delle Carceri, home to Saint Francis’s stone bed. ‘The only ...

Browning and Modernism

Donald Davie, 10 October 1991

The Poems of Browning. Vol. I: 1826-1840 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin.
Longman, 797 pp., £60, April 1991, 0 582 48100 7
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The Poems of Browning. Vol. II: 1841-1846 
edited by John Woolford and Daniel Karlin .
Longman, 581 pp., £50, April 1991, 9780582063990
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... Anthology, where Pound explicitly pays his dues by way of the parenthetical epigraph: ‘(King Charles)’. But in this case Pound’s adaptation is so inferior that there’s no point quoting anything but the Browning original. This is a deeper and more troubling poem than ‘Kentish Sir Byng’, because it articulates the all but suicidal sentiment of a ...

Every three years

Blake Morrison, 3 March 1988

Fifty Poems 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 51 pp., £4.95, January 1988, 0 571 14920 0
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A Various Art 
edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville.
Carcanet, 377 pp., £12.95, December 1987, 0 85635 698 0
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Between Leaps: Poems 1972-1985 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 81 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 19 282089 3
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Eldorado 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 71 pp., £4.50, October 1987, 0 905291 88 3
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Disbelief 
by John Ash.
Carcanet, 127 pp., £6.95, September 1987, 0 85635 695 6
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The Automatic Oracle 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 72 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 19 282088 5
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Voice-over 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 7011 3313 9
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... in his bonsai garden. They might, it’s true, find it a bit too well-tended. From Thom Gunn and Charles Tomlinson to (in their new collections) William Scammell and John Ash, English poets have thought of America as a place to hang loose, an adventure playground of the spirit. Eldorado moves Scammell beyond the erudite, edgy satirical mode which has ...

Diary

Tim Dee: Derek Walcott’s Birthday Party, 22 May 2014

... of England Academy. Many poets and writers are in the exhibition: William Empson, Seamus Heaney, Charles Tomlinson, Salman Rushdie, Robert Lowell, Geoffrey Hill. The only other bare feet besides Walcott’s belong to a corpse on a dissecting table in front of Keith Simpson, the forensic pathologist. An illegible name-tag is attached to a big toe. St ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... held between poems became intrinsic. The renga recently written by Paz, Roubaud, Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson are thus suggestive. They explore an aspect of our lyric tradition which the tradition has not taught us to notice. Such exercises will eventually make it possible to see that Shakespeare in his Sonnets is, like Basho, both creator and ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban, 23 July 1987

Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... Land, the Cantos, Williams’s Paterson and Bunting’s Briggflatts were Louis Zukofsky’s A, Charles Olson’s Maximus, Allen Ginsbert’s Howl, the substitution of ‘breath’ for metre and gossip for metaphor. Adrian Henri and Roger McGough, with their sedulous imitation of the faux-naif Modernism of e.e.cummings, were just as much part of the ...

Entrepreneurship

Tom Paulin: Ted Hughes and the Hare, 29 November 2007

Letters of Ted Hughes 
edited by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 756 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 571 22138 7
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... the Royal Lodge in Windsor. It also shows in his account of meeting the Queen. A letter to Prince Charles is signed ‘Your loyal and humble servant Ted Hughes’. In a heartfelt letter to Nick Gammage (15 December 1992), he claims that the monarchy has ‘deep psychological significance for the union’. He took attacks on the monarchy personally, and of ...

Impersonality

Barbara Everett, 10 November 1988

A Sinking Island: The Modern English Writers 
by Hugh Kenner.
Barrie and Jenkins, 290 pp., £16.95, September 1988, 0 7126 2197 0
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... positions of power in publishing-houses; our true literary talents – David Jones, Basil Bunting, Charles Tomlinson and Geoffrey Hill – not forming a group, as they should, and in any case not read; and the food on British railways simply terrible (page 238: ‘Have you travelled on a British Railway? Gagged on its unthinkable food?’). Part of the ...

Concierge

John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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Auden 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... a range of poets from grand old men (Morgan, Donald Davie) to established talents in mid-career (Charles Tomlinson, Douglas Dunn) to new Best of Young British megastars (W.N. Herbert, Robert Crawford). But the fact relevant to Pound’s current standing is the one in Michael Alexander and James McGonigal’s Introduction: Sons of Ezra could not find a ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... McKenna in 1957 It was strange being alone with these two books; even the names of the poets – Charles Tomlinson, or David Gascoyne, or Robert Conquest, or John Holloway, or Christopher Middleton, or Geoffrey Hill – stood for a world that was fully England. Looking at the list of poets was like having one’s Irish nose pushed up against the ...

Howard’s End

John Sutherland, 18 September 1986

Redback 
by Howard Jacobson.
Bantam, 314 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 593 01212 7
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Coming from behind 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 250 pp., £2.95, April 1984, 0 552 99063 9
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Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 351 pp., £2.95, October 1985, 0 552 99141 4
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... and Shaun Cooney, Ruddles Carmody, Lobelia Sneddon, Norelle Turpie, Vance Kelpie, Montserrat Tomlinson, Bev Belladonna, Hartley Quibell. In fact, for ease of reading (and who wants a hard-to-read comic novel?) there are altogether too many characters popping in and out of the narrative. Even Sefton Goldberg is drafted for a fleeting appearance, wearing ...

Power Systems

John Bayley, 15 March 1984

Dante and English Poetry: Shelley to T.S. Eliot 
by Steve Ellis.
Cambridge, 280 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 521 25126 5
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Dante the Maker 
by William Anderson.
Hutchinson, 497 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 09 153201 9
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Dante: Purgatory 
translated with notes and commentary by Mark Musa.
Indiana, 373 pp., £19.25, September 1981, 0 253 17926 2
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Dante: Paradiso and Purgatorio 
with translation and commentary by Charles Singleton .
Princeton, 610 pp., £11.80, May 1982, 0 691 01844 8
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Virgil: The Aeneid 
translated by Robert Fitzgerald.
Harvill, 403 pp., £12.50, March 1984, 0 00 271008 0
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... the ‘horror’ from which Dante’s imagination redeemed the modern age was that of Kipling’s Tomlinson, the Hollow Man, and all those ‘decent godless people’ without substance enough to be either saved or damned. Dante created individuals, inadvertently perhaps, by exhibiting them in all the vigour of their past actions, and in all the awareness of ...

Someone Else’s

Matthew Reynolds: Translating Cesare Pavese, 6 October 2005

Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-50 
by Cesare Pavese, translated by Geoffrey Brock.
Carcanet, 370 pp., £14.95, April 2004, 1 85754 738 1
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The Faber Book of 20th-Century Italian Poems 
edited by Jamie McKendrick.
Faber, 167 pp., £12.99, June 2004, 0 571 19700 0
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... it too feels caught between languages, aware of the possibility of misunderstanding. Contrast Charles Tomlinson’s versions of Attilio Bertolucci, written in an English that has become distant and rather grand: It is like a wolf, the wind That descends from the hills onto the plain, In the fields it lays flat the grain, Wherever it goes leaving ...

We shall not be moved

John Bayley, 2 February 1984

Come aboard and sail away 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 48 pp., £6, October 1983, 0 907540 37 6
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Children in Exile 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 24 pp., £5, October 1983, 0 907540 39 2
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‘The Memory of War’ and ‘Children in Exile’: Poems 1968-1983 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 110 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 14 006812 0
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Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology 
edited by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85635 469 4
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Nights in the Iron Hotel 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 48 pp., £4, November 1983, 0 571 13116 6
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The Irish Lights 
by Charles Johnston and Kyril Fitzlyon.
Bodley Head, 77 pp., £4.50, September 1983, 0 370 30557 4
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Fifteen to Infinity 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 62 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 09 152471 7
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Donald Davie and the Responsibilities of Literature 
edited by George Dekker.
Carcanet, 153 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 9780856354663
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... wholly different life-style and sensibility. A much more old-fashioned stylisation is achieved by Charles Johnston, who writes with verve and elegance in many forms. Expressing admiration for Lowell’s Life Studies, he produces his own version about his own past, his schooldays and episodes from his time en poste abroad, combining these in a little volume ...

Upriver

Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... from copies of the book and mounted to catch the eye of serial sentimentalists in antique markets. Charles I, a cloaked and lace-collared dandy, strolls across the park to his execution. Queen Matilda, hooded like Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, escapes across a winter landscape. The princes in the Tower are a suspect download soliciting close ...

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